What does Winston's thinking (see below) from 1984 reveal about his emotional needs?
Having caught O'Brien's eye, Winston reflects that he wasn't even sure. . .whether O'Brien was friend or enemy. Nor did it even seem to matter greatly."There was a link of understanding between them that was more important than affection or partisanship" (25).
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In the bland, overly controlled world of Oceania, Winston simply wants to feel something. He needs to be able to have emotions, not necessarily to express them. So, when he thinks of O'Brien (even at the novel's end when O'Brien plays a more significant role in Winston's life), he likes that he feels something. He doesn't care if his feelings for O'Brien are positive or negative, at least they will prove to him that he exists, that he lives. The other characters in the novel who are not conflicted have lost their ability to care or even to want to care; Winston realizes this and also recognizes the danger of becoming like them.
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